How Many Times Do You Point Out A Problem?

Have you ever seen a problem and wanted it to be changed? Maybe somewhere around you, in your family, the life of a friend, your workplace, your church, or anywhere in life, you see a problem that causes pain and heartache to people, and you know it would be so much better if things were different, if the problem was changed. Have you ever felt that?

What do you do when you see such problems? There are different ways to respond to those problems, and they are not all equally good. Even if you have the right heart of wanting a better situation, you might find yourself making the problem worse by how you deal with it. I know that I have had to realize in my life that I at times have rightly identified a problem, but that in my efforts to address it, I have gone about it in the wrong way and just flat out made things worse, at least to some degree. Hopefully there can be positive outcomes as well even if I don’t do everything right, but I would do so much better to learn how to go about addressing a problem the right way.

I certainly have much to learn about that myself, and I expect that many of you may have some good insight into things that would help me and others to hear (feel free to post your comments below with what you have learned). But there is at least one thing that I feel I have learned the importance of, even if I still at times have to learn better how to practice it. I have had a bad tendency in addressing a problem merely to point out the problem and say how bad it is over and over and over again. I have made people feel like I am beating them over the head with the problem. They don’t end up feeling like listening to me, but just want to tell me that they have heard enough already! They have got the point! I can now stop talking, please!

And I can understand that somewhat now. Have you ever known that you have a problem and you would even like to change it and someone comes along and just keeps on harping on how you have a problem? It really doesn’t help too much in the end, is the truth, does it?

I have learned this: Once the problem is identified, let’s not just keep on harping on the problem to the point of angering the person we are talking to. Once we see the problem, we don’t have to state it again and again. Instead, let’s now put our energies into solving that problem. Let’s realize that the person now sees the problem and is ready to be helped in how to deal with it. Sometimes all that is needed is to gently point the problem out to start with and then be done with it; the other person will now be quite capable of handling it. Sometimes there might indeed be the need for a little helpful wisdom of guidance, if we have it to offer. Or maybe some encouragement and help to lift the spirits and give some motivation to tackle the often difficult matter of changing the problem. There are different things that we might do to help at this point. But to just keep on going on and on and on about how there is a problem doesn’t accomplish much good. I have tried to learn that. Maybe it will be a help to some of you to think about that as well.


About amspencer1984

I am a Christian who desires to serve in God's kingdom in the best way possible. I have served as a foreign missionary in southern Mexico. I have worked as a youth minister at my local church of Grace Baptist in Dickson, TN. I have also recently begun to write books with a desire to help others grow in life. I hope that they are helpful and effective in doing that. I have been married to Alicia Spencer since 2003. We have six children and give thanks to God for all of them.
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2 Responses to How Many Times Do You Point Out A Problem?

  1. jclint33 says:

    How do you distinguish, when you see a problem in general, whether it is in someone’s personal life that you know or do not know, when you should confront someone or not? Are there principles that one should go by?

  2. amspencer1984 says:

    Good question. I don’t have all the answers, unfortunately. I will give a few thoughts, though, and hope that others share what they have learned as well.

    1. The Bible does teach us to address a brother’s sin. That should be understood. That doesn’t seem a big part of our thinking today at all.

    2. Jesus tells us not to cast pearls before swine. I conclude from this that there are times not to speak to someone, because, simply, they are not going to listen and the situation will just be made worse. Similarly, Proverbs tells us that there are times to answer a fool and times not to do so. It is sad, though, when we see a problem in someone we love, but conclude that we cannot do much to help the situation, and we must apply these passages and hold our tongue. It seems to me that we all (myself included, for sure) ought to be more receptive when others lovingly speak to us about things in our lives that ought to be different. We immediately grow defensive and try to justify ourselves rather than listening and learning.

    So, then, sometimes we should and sometimes we shouldn’t. The default ought to be, it seems to me, to speak to someone when we see anything significant in terms of sin or error. The setting of our day makes it more difficult, unfortunately, because we are not much interested in that type of interaction for the most part. We do have to refrain sometimes on account of this problem, though it ought not be that way, and we should be working to try to change the culture that makes this so much more difficult than it ought to be.

    3. Another important factor, I think, is the nature of our relationship to the other party. One thing I find is that if we don’t have any depth of relationship with the person in question, then we are not likely to find success in talking to them about an issue of problem. Normally, it does seem reasonable that a person’s problem should be addressed to them by someone close to them and respected by them. If we are not in that position and relationship, the better thing might well be for someone else to deal with it. And I find this leads me to conclude that I need to have deeper and closer relationships with others in general if I expect to be able to have much voice in their lives concerning matters of this nature. And these close relationships are the right thing to start with, aren’t they? As Christians, we ought to be in close love and fellowship with one another. I think I have come to see this as a major area of need in my own life.

    4. Don’t talk to someone at the wrong time. When someone is in a bad mood, it is not the best time to deal with negative problems. If someone is in the middle of a larger problem in life, don’t add to it with another matter that can wait until a later time. These are some other related thoughts about when to address a problem and when not to.

    5. Similarly, I find it important to “weigh” the importance of various issues. At times I have made the mistake of “piling up” three or four or five issues on someone at the same time and overloading them to some degree. It would be better for me to see the largest issue as most pressing and address that for the time present, being content to let the others wait for a better time. And sometimes, I think, the larger issue might be one of building a closer relationship with someone in which I demonstrate love and kindness and concern for the person and we develop a loving closeness that enables me at a later time to address lesser issues. And don’t’ misunderstand me, we are not just playing a game in order to try to get an ear with the person down the road. Whether the person listens to me about lesser issues or not, it is a big important issue in itself to have a loving and close relationship with my Christian brothers. I am supposed to be one member with him in the body of Christ.

    Well, those are a few of my thoughts. Not greatly ordered and arranged, I am afraid, but at least with some hope of helping the discussion along a bit. I would love to hear the thoughts of others.

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